Endometriosis UK is urging anyone experiencing debilitating periods and pelvic pain to take action
The charity is calling for women to contact their doctor immediately and make an appointment.
The call comes during Endometriosis Action Month as new data shows that 89 percent of women aged 16 to 24, and 76 percent of all women, would put off going to the doctor if they were experiencing painful periods which were interfering with their day-to-day activities.
The charity said the most common reason for not getting help was that women feel that painful periods are a normal part of life and that they didn’t feel their doctor would take them seriously.
Endometriosis is a common, sometimes debilitating but often ignored gynecological disease affecting one in ten women that are assigned female at birth from puberty to menopause, although the impact may be felt for life. As well as chronic pelvic pain and painful periods, symptoms include pain during or after sex, painful bowel movements or pain when urinating, difficulty getting pregnant, and fatigue. The type and severity of symptoms experienced vary depending on where the endometriosis is growing.
Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK, said: “We hear a lot of stories from those with endometriosis who was told as a teenager that having excruciating pelvic pain and periods was ‘just part of being a woman’ and to put up with it, that they were being overdramatic, that the pain was all in their head, or their level of pain not believed.
“As awareness and understanding of endometriosis grow, we hope comments like these can be consigned to history – while many may experience period pain at some point, chronic pelvic pain and period pains that interfere with way of everyday life are different and should not be seen as normal.
“Awareness is increasing thanks to the dedication of thousands of Endometriosis UK’s supporters and campaigners. But it’s not increasing fast enough. During Endometriosis Action Month, we’re urging those experiencing symptoms of endometriosis to take action and contact their doctor, so they can get the support and treatment they need.”
The charity said it can take an average of eight years to get a diagnosis of endometriosis in the UK – a figure that hasn’t changed in a decade – during which time, the disease may progress.
The polling also shows an increase in those correctly able to identify endometriosis as a gynecological condition when presented with a list of options – 31 percent of men and 75 percent of women could do so this year, up from 25 percent and 66 percent last year.
Radha Mistry is 33 and works in IT. She was diagnosed with endometriosis six years ago. She said: “My periods had been quite regular and okay until my early 20s, when I started getting terrible pain, predominantly this sharp, throbbing pain on my right-hand side like someone was stabbing my ovary with a pencil – and the periods were lasting a fortnight or more. I soon found that regular over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol weren’t helping.
“I was struggling to keep up with work or make social events with friends, but I tried to put on a brave face, especially because periods are a taboo subject in my community. It was only once I spoke to friends that I realised what I was having wasn’t normal – looking back, I definitely kept it a secret longer than I should have. If period pain is getting in the way of your everyday life, you should definitely speak to someone.”
To find out more about the work that Endometriosis UK, click here.
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